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Factors influencing dairy calf and replacement heifer mortality in France.

Abstract : Herd-level risk factors for dairy calf and heifer mortality in France were identified by calculating herd-level variables (including mortality risk or rate) using the National Bovine Identification Database (2005 and 2006). Eleven dairy production areas representing different livestock systems were also included. Statistical analyses were based on a probit model (mortality risk or rate=0 or >0) and a linear model (mortality risk or rate >0) corrected by the sample bias Heckman method. The same associations were reported for 2005 and 2006. The mortality risks or rates for calves and heifers were positively associated with the proportion of purchased cows or being a Milk Control Program member and negatively associated with adhering to the Good Breeding Practices charter and having an autumn calving peak. The associations between mortality and the breeds or the production areas were positive or negative, depending on the classes of animal. Mortality and having a beef herd in addition to the dairy herd were negatively associated for noncrossed birth to 2-d-old calves, noncrossed 3-d- to 1-mo-old calves, and 3-d- to 1-mo-old heifers. Having a beef herd probably provides specific know-how related to newborn and young calf management that makes it easier to attain low mortality in pure-breed dairy calves. The proportion of males born was positively associated with mortality for the birth to 2-d-old calves (all classes) and for the 3-d- to 1-mo-old beef-crossed calves, but negatively for all classes of heifers. This indicates that heifer management was improved when the availability of newborn heifers decreased, resulting in low mortality. This lower mortality is apparent for all classes of heifers present on the farm during the year when the proportion of males was low, and demonstrates an anticipatory effect. In conclusion, this study shows that the presence of a beef herd in addition to the dairy herd within a farm is associated with decreased dairy calf mortality. It also shows that heifer mortality decreases when the proportion of heifers born decreased. These determinants of dairy calf and heifer mortality are of great importance for farmer advisors, the dairy industry, and the political decision makers.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 10:10:11 PM
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Didier Raboisson, Elise Maigne, Pierre Sans, Gilles Allaire, Eric Cahuzac. Factors influencing dairy calf and replacement heifer mortality in France.. Journal of Dairy Science, American Dairy Science Association, 2014, 97 (1), pp.202-211. ⟨10.3168/jds.2013-6847⟩. ⟨hal-02637092⟩

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